You’ve probably seen them shuffling through the pubs and restaurants of Wigan town centre in their nylon ‘I heart Division Three’ T-shirts and faux-plastic ‘Hutchings 4Ever’ baseball caps. They’re the Latics hipsters, a hardy bunch of decaf-fuelled neo-Nathan Barley types that won’t be happy until the club returns to the ‘Golden Land’ of League Two.
These ahead-of-the-trends Steve Bruce worshippers will have you believe Tuesday’s blistering match-up was one of the dreariest they’ve seen since the post-Coyle, pre-Rosler limbo of early December 2013, the days when a directionless Latics somehow stumbled away from Elland Road with a fortunate 2-0 defeat.
While times have undoubtedly changed, trying to convince the hipsters of this fact is as pointless as singing to an empty seat. But there is a crumb of truth in their reasoning, because often you must look to the past for a glimpse into the future. As on the catwalk, footballing trends are recycled more often than the half-ton of glossy leaflets currently ensuring my blue wheelie bin is too heavy to be stolen.
As Uwe Rosler’s office whiteboard currently reads, ‘you must learn from the mistakes, and successes, of your predecessor’. Owen Coyle’s had only the phone number for Krispy Kreme and a faded sticky note with a shopping list for the January transfer window. It read: ‘white bread, cheese slices and Irn Bru’. Possibly.
Shopping lists are *so* mainstream.
But back to the present day. (Heh, that could be the title of a time travel flick starring Gary Caldwell and Vauxhall Novas.)
There were streaks of Martinez 2013 in Wigan’s first half display of territorial domination. Wembley cup hero Jordi Gomez is like an anti-mirror in that his performances are reflected in the team as a whole – when he plays well, so do those around him. And I make no apologies if it seems this site is fast becoming the Jordi Gomez Appreciation Society, for he is the current captain of The Good Ship Latics in all but name.
It was Leicester Mk II for the Spaniard, who continued his good form from one home game to the second in a three-part saga. A capital free kick reminiscent of that which Ramis tucked home on Tuesday almost reaped rich reward when Nick Powell was the proverbial teletext pixel‘s width from bundling home at the back post. Hmm, who’s regretting the digital switchover now, eh?
But Latics were soon to etch their (no doubt heavily glitched) names into the Ceefax videprinter.
James McArthur combined an incisive run with a smart one-two to make good progress through the forest of bodies on the edge of the North Stand penalty area. The ball rolled perfectly for Martyn Waghorn, who let rip with a left-foot rasper. Keeper Jack Butland’s attempt to strong-arm the ball past his right hand post proved unsuccessful, and the now fully-fledged ‘Ticsmon was embarking upon a richly-deserved celebratory vacation to the touchline. They no longer play goal tunes at the DW, but this would have been an apt time for a rendition of Cliff Richard’s Summer Holiday.
Before the half time orange (soft drink?) slicing, there was just enough time for our old friend Michael Brown to pick up his customary booking. Oh Browny, don’t you ever change! I wouldn’t say it was a particularly dirty half, but then I do have non-conformist hipster tendencies, if my earlier description is anything to go by. So don’t believe a word. (Spot the not-so-subtle disclaimer!)
You know, Irn Bru? Nah, you’ve probably never heard of it.
United did, however, impose themselves in a fractured second 45. One high ball into the area caused Al Habsi to run the length of his penalty area to punch, and though he cleared any danger, the Omani left a trail of devastation on the grass-munching team-mates he floored. Well alright, it wasn’t *quite* that bad, and we can laugh about it as nobody was seriously injured.
Far from the flowing quality of midweek, this was fast becoming a hipster-pleasing Football League contest of old. Which there’s nothing wrong with, but I would have preferred to create an altogether more positive impression for the Sky TV audience. QPR must have been choking on their pre-match ham baguettes.
All of this suited Leeds fine, but the equaliser was sadly(?) missing. Latics only had to survive an 84th minute Ross McCormack chip just past the upright and the finishing post was in sight. Gomez squandered possibly his side’s best chance in the final minute of regular time, but no matter – substitutes Marc-Antoine Fortune and James McClean would team up to eke out what remained of an attritional Championship battle.
Well would you look at that, Dave? Game finished and Twittersphere appeased before most clubs have even contemplated rising from their dinner chair to brush those ham sandwich crumbs from their teeth. Which isn’t to make a statement about footballers’ dental hygiene, nor their dining arrangements.
But forget that, because there is only one more game before you-know-what. Try not to get too excited!